The Indianapolis Colts are coming off a tremendously successful campaign, Frank Reich‘s first as head coach. After initially stumbling to a 1-5 start, the club proceeded to win nine of its final 10 regular season games. Indy followed that up with a 21-7 pasting of the Houston Texans on the road in the wild-card round of the playoffs.
Other than maybe Tiger Woods, Andrew Luck is one of the great comeback stories in all of sports over the past few years. His career revival played a part in the Colts’ return to the postseason and it earned him NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors. The next step in Luck growing his legend is to lead this team to the Super Bowl promised land.
To that end, the Colts selected 10 players in this year’s draft. While some might need some time to make an impact in the NFL, others are capable of contributing right away. Indy’s entire draft haul is listed below.
2019 Indianapolis Colts Draft Class
Second round, 34th overall: Rock Ya-Sin, cornerback, Temple
Second round, 49th overall: Ben Banogu, edge rusher, TCU
Second round, 59th overall: Parris Campbell, wide receiver, Ohio State
Third round, 89th overall: Ben Okereke, linebacker, Stanford
Fourth round, 109th overall: Khari Willis, safety, Michigan State
Fifth round, 144th overall: Marvell Tell III, safety, USC
Fifth round, 164th overall: E.J. Speed, linebacker, Tarleton State
Sixth round, 199th overall: Gerri Green, edge rusher, Mississippi State
Seventh round, 240th overall: Jackson Barton, tackle, Utah
Seventh round, 246th overall: Javon Patterson, center, Ole Miss
Indianapolis Colts 2019 NFL Draft Grade: 8.5/10
Which player is the crown jewel of this class? Is there a pick that likely left fans a tad on the puzzled side? Who comes across as the biggest surprise? Which one is an absolute steal who fell into the Colts lap? And who has the potential to wow once training camp gets underway? Find out about them all below.
Indianapolis Colts 2019 NFL Draft Review
This is an opinion that will likely ruffle some feathers as Campbell was the third player taken by the Colts. But there’s every reason to believe that the former Buckeye can emerge as one of Luck’s favorite targets. In many respects, he could also be looked at as a steal considering Indy was able to nab him late in the second round. And he should be able to garner noticeable production right off the bat.
Campbell’s incendiary speed is among his top strong suits. He demonstrated this element of his skill set by running a 4.31 40-yard dash at the Combine, good enough for third-best at the event. That raw quickness shows up on tape big-time as he consistently beats opposing defensive backs after the catch. He can be utilized in a variety of route concepts, including shallow crosses and straight go routes down the sideline. The one knock on him, and what likely caused him to be available where he was, is that he dealt with drops from time to time. But make no mistake about it. Campbell is a big play waiting to happen and should make an immediate impact.
The Head-Scratcher: E.J. Speed
When the Colts took Speed in the fifth round, even the most astute draft experts were likely scrambling to find out more about him. NFL Network draft analyst Lance Zierlein, who writes hundreds of scouting reports on prospects each year, did not cover Speed. In fact, Speed’s profile on the NFL website only includes personal info, height/weight data as well as other physical traits, in addition to him receiving no draft grade.
Speed played collegiately at Division II Tarleton State in Stephenville, TX and came onto the Colts radar after he impressed at the Lone Star Conference Pro Day. He’s an athletic linebacker who displays the sideline-to-sideline range necessary to play in Indy’s 4-3 rush and cover look. In certain respects, he’s similar to last year’s instant impact rookie Darius Leonard in that he arrived onto the Colts roster after a career at a non-FBS school. Durability is a significant concern as Speed dealt with numerous injuries in college. But the Colts saw something in him and now it’s up to him to repay the faith.
The Suprise: Khari Willis
Safety was among the positions that general manager Chris Ballard needed to address via the draft. They certainly did so in selecting Willis in round four as well as Tell one round later. But picking up Willis early on day three of the draft could be characterized as a bit of a reach. Many draft experts didn’t see him going until later.
Among Willis’ strong suits are his intangibles which likely augmented his draft stock in the eyes of the Colts brass. He displayed impressive leadership skills as well as a prodigious work ethic while at Michigan State. Those qualities go a long way in an NFL locker room. However, Willis’ athleticism and ball skills are average at best and he could be a liability in coverage against speedy receivers capable of taking the top off defenses. Willis feels like a work in progress and those are picks you usually make at the tail end of day three.
The Steal: Rock Ya-Sin
You could certainly classify Ya-Sin as the best player in this year’s Colts draft class. After all, he was the first player taken by the club. What puts him in the steal category is the fact that plenty of analysts slapped a first-round grade on the cornerback out of Temple. So, in that sense, Ya-Sin fell into Indy’s lap when they were on the clock early in the second round.
There are certain signature traits at each position that all the elite players possess. For defensive backs, it’s the ability to seamlessly flip one’s hips in reacting to the movements of opposing receivers. Ya-Sin does this as good as any of the cornerback/safety prospects in this year’s draft. His ball skills are also off the chart as he’s able to high point the ball and come down with it in contested catch situations. Look for Ya-Sin to vault into the starting lineup right off the bat.
Most Likely to Turn Heads in Training Camp: Ben Banogu
Indy had three picks in round two of the draft and the middle selection was spent on Banogu. The TCU product is coming off a senior campaign that saw him earn first-team all-Big XII notice after he totaled 8.5 sacks and 18 tackles for loss, the latter of which was tied for second-best in the conference. Colts fans are hoping he can translate that propensity for blowing up plays in the backfield to the next level.
Banogu is an explosive pass rusher with superb lower body power which he displayed by recording the highest vertical and broad jump among edge rushers at this year’s Combine. He uses that strength to out-leverage tackles at the point of attack and, combined with solid footwork, can shift inside as a route to the quarterback. If he can improve his positioning when defending the run as a means of wrapping up ball-carriers more consistently, you’re looking at a legitimate starting caliber player.
Okereke was one of two linebackers the Colts took this year as he came off the board two rounds earlier than the aforementioned Speed. The Stanford product led the Cardinal in tackles last year and it hints at a high work rate player who can cover the entirety of the field. He’s somewhat undersized and though his tackle numbers are impressive, his technique does need additional honing if he’s to succeed in the pros.
Marvell Tell III
What the Colts are getting with Tell is a lengthy safety with adequate closing quickness and the ability to seamlessly move around the field. His tackling technique is in need of significant work, though. It’s also unclear as to whether he can dish out the requisite physicality at the next level. He also needs to play with a higher sense of urgency on a more consistent basis.
Green is a late round depth add at the edge rusher position. The Mississippi State product is a versatile player capable of lining up outside in multiple alignments. He possesses impressive speed in making his way to the ball-carrier and shows good awareness defending the pass as he’s always looking to bat balls down. But he plays way too upright and needs to get stronger if he’s to see consistent reps in the NFL.
The Colts took two offensive linemen in the final round of the draft with Barton being the first of them. He certainly looks the part of an NFL-caliber tackle with adequate size, stature, and arm length. But unless he can play in a more athletic position with lower pad level, it will be difficult for him to keep power rushers at bay.
Patterson, taken with the 246th overall pick, rounded out the 2019 Colts draft class. He’s fairly athletic with solid footwork and displays quite a bit of tenacity when mirroring and anchoring against defenders. However, his build is a tad on the thin side, he tends to play with too much forward lean and struggles to process exotic pass rush moves.
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